From the End of the Road to the Scrap Metal Heap
Published August 28, 2017
After having the same vehicle for a decade I had become accustomed to a few things. My 2005 Chevy Cavalier only had two working windows, and one of them was not the driver’s. I had to open my door at a drive through or ATM. The factory stereo was so old it didn’t even have an AUX input for my ipod. I had one CD-R of my 15 favorite tunes for the month and I was good for my two hour commute to work and back for many years. After 200,000 miles things started slowly breaking down one little issue at a time. Norm’s in Bentonville has treated my car well and done everything they could to keep her up and running for me.
One day the Cavalier died in the streets at a turning lane in the intersection. There were two turning lanes, and I felt lucky in that fact. I turned my hazard lights on and threw my hands in the air at every angry face that swept by. People started swerving into the other lane to go around me. I had my door open and started pushing my car up to the light while holding on to the steering wheel. A car had stopped a ways behind me and put their hazard lights on. A polite and fit African-American man in running gear asked if I needed any help. A muscular Caucasian with a mighty beard arrived in the same moment who had parked in a lot across the street. They agreed to help push me into the gas station at the corner while I steered. We got the car up to the line and waited for the green arrow.
The race was on. The mighty steeds were ready. I held on to the reigns with a clenched fist, ready to steer the push of raw muscle. I was standing with the door open. We all knew what needed to be done. A silence crept across the air and the sound of traffic was a hush in the distance as we focused on the task. Fog puffed from our nostrils in the morning chill as we stared up at the traffic light. We knew our time was coming soon and we hunkered down in preparation, ready for action.
Green Light! We pushed the cavalier like a bobsled team. Traffic in the inside turning lane passed inches away from my open door. The mighty and helpful beasts were outrunning me and I jumped into the driver’s seat, held on to the door, and turned it into the gas station. It was a quick little ‘S’ curve and I was in a safe place where I could figure out what to do next. The men waved me on and ran back to their own vehicles. To those two brave and kind souls who decided to stop and help me out. Thank You!
I called my insurance company to take advantage of the Roadside assistance I have been paying for and not using for many years. I wanted it towed to Norm’s and it was out of the fourteen mile range so they would have to charge me $40 for the tow. I think I could have done that one on my own without the jump in cost of coverage, but it saved me some time. I wanted to take my vehicle to people who already know my car’s issues and ailments so we can skip all the B.S. and get to the point. The nice lady on the phone told me it would be up to an hour for the tow truck to arrive.
I went into the gas station to grab some coffee and went outside to wait. I’m not good at just sitting and waiting, especially indoors. I got bored of pacing the parking lot and went back inside to buy a stress pack of smokes and make new year’s resolutions as repentance. I sat outside on the curb with my coffee and contemplated my options while I waited for the tow truck.
The tow truck arrived way ahead of schedule and started hooking me up. I saw a pack of smokes in the car and asked if this was a smoking vehicle. He said ‘yes’, and I said ‘good’ as we settled in for the thirty minute drive to my mechanic. The driver was a good old boy who liked to drive and think about the strangeness and beauty of the world. We had a good talk for the whole drive. I received a notification via text from the insurance company that the tow truck driver was expected to arrive at my vehicle’s location in around thirty minutes as we pulled into my destination way ahead of schedule. I handed my keys over to the mechanics and walked several blocks to a friend’s house.
I played some Call of Duty: Black Ops III online and stabbed a few avatars in the head with a claw to ease my tension and have some giggles on my friend’s account. I’m sure he appreciates all the hate mail from people who take themselves way too seriously. I tried not to worry about the ramifications of being without a vehicle when I live an hour from my work and not having the money or credit to get a new one until I heard something definitive about my vehicle’s condition. The situation was out of my hands for now. I hoped it would be something simple. The call came in. The engine was dead, or ‘freewheeling’ as he put it. It was the news I was fearing.
My options were: a used engine for around $3,500 (most of which is labor), sell it for scrap and get $89 when someone comes to pick it up, or donate it to kars4kids.org for a $500 tax write off and a two night hotel stay. The car wouldn’t be worth what I would have to put into it, and it was time to face the facts. After having to listen to an annoying jingle on repeat the entire time I was on hold, I opted for the write off and hotel stay.
I have been lucky in having a great boss who has helped me out and let me use a vehicle while I figure this out. I have finally found a good vehicle for cheap, fingers crossed. Buying a used vehicle with very little money to spend and no credit for those of us who want to avoid payments can be tricky. Getting my used vehicle was an adventure of its own and I will tell you that story soon. I am going to binge watch some Top Gear challenges. Then I am going to watch the new episodes of Grand Tour on Amazon Prime to learn how to fix things when they go wrong and have some fun with my 2009 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, complete with a windshield that looked like it lost an argument with a baseball bat.
You will be missed Cavalier. We have had some good adventures together. Sometimes it’s just time to let go and move on. It’s the start of a new chapter, and exciting adventures to come.